…and the quest to see everything

Books

Book: Sense and Sensibility


I finished this book on February 15th for a Jane Austen Book Club. We’re never going to have our first meeting. Sad. The first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue, impressionistic between the Dashwoods, focusing instead on portraying a pastoral tone through narrative. The novel seems more dialogue-centred during chapters when Elinor and Marianne encounter male characters. Some conversations are either omitted, or through hearsay, obscured so that even the Dashwoods don’t know their endings. dialogue is important both in form and content in this book because it cements or disintegrates the female characters’ engagements with their suitors.

Had Austen been born in this era, Elinor would have rolled her eyes at people, especially when it comes to the alleged relationship between her and one of Marianne’s suitors, Colonel Brandon. This platonic relationship is probably Elinor returning the favour to Marianne with the latter’s few conversations with the former’s suitor Edward Ferrars. Marianne and Edward both hate jargon, the former’s poetic personality refreshed by Edward’s simplicity.

The book also perfectly encapsulates female heartbreak. I’ve seen it personally and it’s nasty and can almost suck the soul out of someone. Yes, and even if the book is mostly from Elinor’s perspective, Marianne’s heartbreak is more tragic. Speaking of conversations, Elinor has a last conversation with Willoughby that doesn’t really make him sympathetic, no matter how hard Austen tries to sway us.

The only adaptation of the book that I’ve seen is from Emma Thompson’s screenplay. Willoughby’s introduction scene still makes me giddy, even if I know how he really is. Eventually having to cast herself as Elinor, Thompson is the wrong age for the part. But I can’t help but hear her voice when I’m reading Elinor’s dialogue. Pardon the limp wordplay, but Thompson’s adds sensibility and soul to make Elinor and Austen proud. Also, House is in this movie.

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Book: I am Number Four


Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four has a film adaptation now. The trailer includes love interest Sarah (Diana Argon), falling from a building for protagonist John (Alex Pettyfer) to catch him. Sarah’s reaction is to look at John lustily. One of John’s lines include ‘You have no idea what I’m capable of,’ sounding like something that would make me call an abuse shelter.

I had to choose either the original cover art or one with a quote from film producer Michael Bay, who is apparently a book critic now.

Norlinda wrote about I am Number Four echoing traditions of  teen sci-fi. Superman. Buffy, especially that John’s survival depends as much on his peer support, ironic since Henri (Timothy Olyphant) advises him to keep to himself. They belong to an endangered alien race, the Lorien, exiled from their planet, hunted by another alien race, the Mogadorians.

Yes, I’m the asshole who will talk about the implicit politics in a book about teenage aliens. The prologue begins with a “Heart of Darkness”-y depiction of the Congo, the setting for Three’s death. John is one of nine powerful aliens on Earth, the death of Three personally hurting him, thus the interconnected nature of their relationship that transcends skin colour and geography.

John is both an alien and all-American. John also talks about a fear of cities, where the Mogadorians might blend in easier, yet has a love-hate relationship with his new home. Cynical at first, he eventually subscribes to the mythology connected to the aptly named Paradise, Ohio. He also recounts the histories of his planet and the Mogadorians’, both having dealt with overpopulation and pollution, the former dealing through change – liberals – the latter choosing viral destruction – conservatives.

Lore writes the book’s prologue in clunky third person. Thankfully the rest is in first person, Lore writing John’s narration with such attention to specific objects, making his world as tangible as he is intelligent. The last chapters of the book tell a drawn out fight between him and the Mogadorians that I lost attention on the details. Lore also breaks the Frankenstein rule but that also humanizes the Mogadorian beasts.

Henri also tells John that Loriens and humans have procreated, siring great men like Julius Caesar, which is weird because I’m pretty sure a 15-year old girl can go to Wikipedia and trace Julius Caesar’s provenance by at least two generations. And it’s great that Lore includes an asshole like Julius Caesar into their fold.

Lore is a collaboration between Jobie Hughes and James Frey. In page 264, they write ‘…force causes it to smash into a million little pieces.’ This happens again in page 300-something. In between those references, page 333, there’s a reference about a drug movie. Page 439 is the second to the last page of the book, where Lore indulges himself with a Milton reference.


Casting: Freedom


The news about Jonathan Franzen was picked up locally – he and his new novel “Freedom” had moved around for a book tour with a stop at Toronto two months earlier and meant everything to the city now – because of his appearances at the IFOA. According to very flattering reviews in the city’s alternative weeklies, Franzen made an epic splash tackling both the professional and private lives of the fictional Berglund family whose story spanned from St. Paul to Washington. While the blogger was wallowing with self-pity because of being unable to pay for tickets to see someone who was practically a living literary genius, the blogger contended with reading the 500 plus page tome by himself months later, and realized that the first thing he was thinking about was who would play the characters in a movie version which MAKES HIM A PRIME SUSPECT RIGHT? Then again, a film version would be in the spirit of the ambition in this book, and regardless the parts that were in Joey’s perspective, which is practically Franzen channeling Bret Easton Ellis, and even if certain plot points are revealed twice, the book can compel and break the hearts of the readers each time.

The blogger kept thinking about what it would have been like if this movie was set in the late 1980’s with a cast like Danner-Redford-Goldblum, or Kristine Sutherland (Buffy’s mom)-Kline-Goldblum, or a mid 1950’s cast consisting of Taylor-Hudson-Dean. But what is done is done. The blogger will give a set of names that also depends on which director the movie version would make the film, and how ambitious and cool-headed this director is.

JESSICA BERGLUND. Walter and Patty’s intelligent, ethically sound older daughter. She’s daddy’s girl but their relationship isn’t as poisonous as Patty and her brother Joey’s.

My choice. Emma Roberts. It’s weird casting a younger actor who’s only more than ten years younger than the actors playing his parents. The only thing I’ve seen her in is the trailer for It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Hope my instincts aren’t off.

CONNIE MONAGHAN. The girl next door to the Monaghans. She’s an outsider from the neighborhood and Joey’s girlfriend.

My choice. Kristen Stewart. This girl’s probably going to be too cool for school after On the Road is released or when, by lucky stars, she gets the role of Kate for the new East of Eden. But as much as I liked her in The Runaways, when you read about a character that’s feral and sexual and has no ideas of her own, who else could I have thought of?

LALITHA. The young woman of Indian descent who has two passions – anti-overpopulation and her boss, Walter Berglund.

My choice Freida Pinto. The book describes Lalitha as having round features like Aishwarya Rai, who isn’t on the age range as the character. There’s a calming sense to her performance in Slumdog Millionaire, and the sexual element is obviously in there as well.

JOEY BERGLUND. The wonder boy who’s rebelling from his parents through sexual relations with Connie Monaghan and through Republicanism.

My choice. Anton Yelchin. This’ll be a jump from Yelchin, whose foray into science fiction films make him seem benevolent and dorky. But young minds can absorb. Plus he can still pretend to be in high school, depending on what the film wants him to be. The only questions are how he’s going to look with blonde hair and a little beer weight?

RICHARD KATZ. Truncated from the hardcover’s leaflet thingy, he’s an outre rocker and Walter Berglund’s best friend and rival. But what is he still doing in the picture?

My choice: Unknown This is a cop-out, but every source material has a role that’s hard to cast. It’s better for a casting director to scour the earth and find someone out of a thousand people other than saying Depp or Bale or Leo. Colin Farrell might do if he looked the part.

WALTER BERGLUND. As a nature lover, working for Big Coal becomes the career move that gets him in the New York Times. Has Freudian rivalry issues with his best friend, his son, his father and brothers.

My choice: Paul Rudd. Ageless Paul Rudd. We need someone sincere to open up to Patty as he talks about how mean her best friend Eliza is Sure he hasn’t done drama since The Object of My Affection, but you can’t lose that kind of training. His comic side might help reduce tensions in many scenes while arguing with Joey or his wife Patty and will help him while thinking about overpopulation statistics and going ballistic on a pill-addled speech that goes viral, pre-Youtube days. Thinking about Paul Rudd made me realize what a funny character Walter is.

PATTY BERGLUND nee EMERSON. The basketball star turned perfect housewife to bored, drinking housewife who wallows in self-pity and writes her autobiography for therapy.

My choice: Michelle Monaghan. ‘I’m 34. I’m a baby,’ Monaghan says in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang five and a half years ago. Although she looks more mature in Somewhere, the blogger is sure she can still fit in as a young blonde girl in a college basketball team and eventually transform herself into an older Washington housewife. She has the hardness in her voice to nail ‘Did Walter ever tell you I slashed Blake’s snow tires?’ and humour and goodwill to bring Patty to our sympathies.


Scene: Shortbus and Mitchell



ph. Fortissimo

New Yorkers are permeable, you know what I mean.

Yeah.

Yes you are.

Mm-hmm.

Yeah. Therefore, we’re sane. Consequently, we are the target of the impermeable and the insane.

Yeah.

And of course, New York is where everyone comes. To be forgiven. Whatever you’ve done. Tell me, how have you sinned? I’m sure it’s nothing serious.

How would you know?

Well, I’m sure you did your best. But imagine, if you grew up here like I did, home can be very unforgiving. It’s true. People said I didn’t do enough to help prevent the AIDS crisis because I was in the closet. That’s not true. I did the best I could. I was, I was scared, and impermeable. Everybody knew so little then. I know even less now.

As part of the CINSSU Fall Academic Seminar, University of Toronto Professor and breathtaking taskmaster Corrin Columpar let us in on a new book she’s working on – one about the collaborative process of filmmaking that directors like John Cameron Mitchell use. She also talks about this scene in context to 9/11 and Judith Butler‘s “Frames of War.” She discusses the duality of permeability and impermeability, how both 9/11 and the AIDS crisis is framed by other media so that America prefers a to attack instead a better alternative, mourning. Vigilance, unfortunately, is more destructive than mourning. And Dr. Columpar, please don’t sue me.

Only in this scene, this emotional rich scene does Rabbit Hole make sense as a part of Mitchell’s career trajectory.

It’s gonna be difficult not to talk about how this scene affects me and enlightens me. I know it’s a bit stereotypical to have a septuagenarian representing the 1970’s or the 80’s while some of the people I’ve met and talked to who were around ‘back then’ are virile men in their forties or fifties, who don’t necessarily open up to their experiences then and then I didn’t wanna pry. I can only imagine what they’re thinking, especially with their loss and the carelessness that the new generation has adapted. But then the AIDS generation are the men between sixteen to sixty in those days. And the character was closeted during the time, although I’m not sure how much he participated in the scene in its heyday. And that’s as much as I would like to discuss on that note.

There’s a lot going on here – the voyeurs like Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee) and the Jamies (Paul Dawson and PJ DeBoy), the conversation between Ceth (Jay Brannan) and the former New York Mayor (Alan Mandell), the band on stage singing about secret handshakes, the condomless orgy where one of its participants sneaking a glance at the couple. There are thus two kinds of shot-counter shot relationships. Shot – older man, counter shot younger man. Shot – the couple, counter shot voyeurs in three different places within the room, and I don’t think I’ve seen a shot-counter shot relationship like the latter, unless correct me if I’m wrong, I suppose. To the voyeurs – and to me, honestly – it might have looked like a grandpa trying to pick up a rent boy. However, the scene, ending on a close-up of two of them, makes sure that we see a connection between them that’s beyond or even outside love or lust.

And now to eventually see the rest of the movie. Can someone put this back on a rep theatre again? Because as you know, I stubbornly see films mostly in the theatres.


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Rule number 4 or whatever of blogging – Be careful when you’re blogging while drunk and/or angry. I wouldn’t recommend people to do it because instead of writing seven hundred words for a piece, I end up writing half of that when I’m drunk and/or angry. That, however, often means I get a lot of work done because of either fatigue and just wanting to get things over. Speaking of…repeat after me kids, drunk and/or angry, I’m only one of those things tonight but the characters of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf are both. I’ve had the chance finally to buy the book since one of my coworkers have, and decided to read it while playing the movie. Not the best idea since there’s a lot of cut, paste and add in the film’s script, but do as I say, not as I do. I haven’t finished rewatching the film, but I’ve fed you kids trash for the past two days might as well talk about a great film, although I’m not sure if I give justice to it.

ph. Warner

I also want to say that I kept imagining Henry Fonda as George, who was offered the role on the play’s first Broadway production. I also want to say that George (Richard Burton) concedes the play to Martha (Elizabeth Taylor). I don’t know why that is. Maybe he plays the calmer host to Martha’s angry drunk host. I’m not gonna say that Burton’s performance isn’t great because I don’t even believe that, but he has the most lines yet it doesn’t feel that way. I will now try to entertain you with the best line reads in the film.

MARTHA (In a so-there, childish voice) Daddy said we should be nice to them.

eta. MARTHA Ha HA! Wonderful; marvelous. (Sings) “Just a gigolo…Everywhere I go,…”

HONEY (Sandy Dennis) He’s not a floozie…he can’t be a floozie..you’re a floozie.

GEORGE And that’s how you play get the guests.

ETA GEORGE Flores; Flores para los muetros. Flores.

NICK (George Segal, who honestly is as good looking as he is young and fit) Where is your husBAND?


Plugs: “Cities of Refuge,” Empire Magazine, etc.


(ph fantasticfiction)

Fuck. So I’m gonna try to be like Oprah and tell 36 of you what book to buy. “Cities of Refuge” is the new novel by Michael “Papa” Helm and it just came out in Canada and I think England last week. It’s about a young female security guard for the ROM gets sexually assaulted, and that event adds to her colourful life as well as the lives of those around her. It’s been highly praised already. My broke ass actually bought the book and there’s something factual yet psychological about his tone, so far. It’s also very urban, multicultural story and he makes us walk with the characters in the spaces they go through and think about the city like they do.

Helm is also gonna be a part of the Harbourfront Reading Series and he goes on Wednesday. He taught me Creative Writing in UofT until he defected to the enemy at York. He’s cute, he kinda sounds like Johnny Cash, go buy his book and see him read it.

(watermarked)

Lars, who I was in the Creative Writing class with (here’s his un-updated blog by the way), also linked me to Empire’s List of 40 Great Actor and Director Partnerships. It’s a very dry list and there are a few glaring omissions (Allen and Farrow), but at least the website didn’t turn it into a fucking slide show. Also, I’m gonna buy this magazine. My friends will know that I barely buy movie magazines because I can access the same information on the net, as well as other reasons that I’ll probably never get to.

Also, The Playlist via London Times gives us the first look at Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. I’m really excited about this because Michael Fassbender plays Rochester, the same role played by Orson Welles and Ciaran Hinds. I also didn’t know whether or not Mia Wasikowska is British or American (she’s Australian), and hopefully giving her Jane Eyre will give her something more to chew on than her role as Alice early this year.

Lastly, today’s gonna be really busy. I saw three movies last night, all strangely about May-December romances.